Friday, December 31, 2010

Bright Light of Shipwreck: Lost Worlds and Discoveries

Last year I wrote about the bright light of shipwreck, an image I'd found in the works of poet George Oppen.
This year, for Poetry Friday, I offer a shipwreck poem of my own.
I wrote this shortly after preliminary DNA testing indicated that the child in the grave marked No. 4 was Eino Viljami Panula. Years later, new testing methods gave No. 4 another identity, Sidney Leslie Goodwin. It seemed to me, though, that the children who actually made the passage to the new world from the old country were as lost as these.
Despite the gloomy poem I present, I am, as always, optimistic about the coming year and the discoveries it will hold.

Carol's Corner is the
host for today's
Poetry Friday.
This is part of a series of poems (three so far) about lost worlds.

Lost Worlds:  The Emigrants
(For remembrance of  Eino Viljami Panula, only 13 months old,
 and for Gösta Leonard Pålsson, who was never found)

The fifth son was the only one
to come home to the new world:
Lifted from the cold water
days after the wreck.
All his brothers,
his mother,
all gone.
All lost forever
between the old home
and the new.

But the fifth son
drawn up from the water
by the hands of the fishermen—
all then, fathers
all then, broken hearts—
was brought to the new world
and laid to rest.
The men crying in the way
that men,
and fathers, cry.

For generations all they could give him was a grave.
When at last his lost family found him,
they knew they could not draw him back to that old home
after the generations of departure.

They visited
and said his name
And turned their backs once more
on that new world
that had swallowed so many lost sons
in the mines of the Keweenaw
and Anaconda’s Butte.

The lost cousins,
of the many generations of departure
repeating stories of the Baltic summer
at the distant edges
of the new world.

CLOTHING - Grey coat with fur on collar and cuffs; brown serge frock; petticoat; flannel garment; pink woolen singlet - brown shoes and stockings.

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